Don't have 2 weeks of vacation, cash for a bush flight, or advanced skills for a remote expedition? Just an hour from Anchorage, The Talkeetnas are your answer. The range is full of pointy summits that call to mind the Wind Rivers or Sierra on steroids, plus endless soaring passes and a wealth of glaciers.
This 5-day, 21-mile sampler is an excellent intro to the route-finding and terrain challenges of Alaskan trekking, but it also offers numerous opportunities for more advanced hikers to explore utterly deserted backcountry. The route hits a little bit of everything by looping through the southwest corner of the Talkeetnas in the Hatcher Pass Management Area, land loosely administered by Alaska State Parks. While the trailheads can be bustling on weekends, you'll quickly escape the crowds.
- Distance: 34.2
Location: 61.7917518615723, -149.282089233398
Begin at Independence Mine State Park, hiking through a mile of gold-rush ruins to the steep snow- and-boulder climb over Independence Gap.
Location: 61.8083343505859, -149.30061340332
Independence Pass; a steep notch in the ridgeline begins the route
Location: 61.8134002685547, -149.306259155273
Small backcountry tarn on R
Location: 61.8188171386719, -149.304306030273
Head NE on tundra
Location: 61.8413314819336, -149.287017822266
Dogsled Pass then drop into the broad alpine valley of Peters Creek
Location: 61.8442649841309, -149.28596496582
Good campsite with water
Location: 61.8588485717774, -149.287567138672
Cross Peters Creek; slow climb ahead past a series of alpine ponds
Location: 61.8810653686524, -149.250717163086
Cross a rugged, unnamed pass
Location: 61.8777847290039, -149.226684570312
Continue E over second unnamed pass. Wind through cliff bands with superb views of Montana Peak and the Mint Spires, to the blueberry fields of Bartholf Creek.
Location: 61.8770332336426, -149.22102355957
Location: 61.8786506652832, -149.186370849609
Carefully cross Bartholf Creek
Location: 61.8793182373047, -149.135330200195
From here, climb S up the Bombler Glacier (crampons helpful on the rock-hard ice).
Location: 61.8583984375, -149.119720458984
Pass the remains of a giant B-29 Superfortress that crashed in 1957. Swing W.
Location: 61.8547172546387, -149.1337890625
Cross the sketchy dirt scramble atop Bomber Pass and drop steeply SW down talus to Reed Lakes, a popular dayhike with Matanuska locals.
Location: 61.8479843139648, -149.157638549805
Good campsite @ upper Reed Lake
Location: 61.8226165771484, -149.187423706055
Good trail leads to dirt road.
Location: 61.8044166564941, -149.202499389648
End hike: Pick-up shuttle car or hitchhike 6.2 miles back to Independence Mine.